News Timeline: July 2004


July 1 – Africa: NIGERIA

Nigerian police launch a crackdown on the recently proliferating ethnic militias, which are illegal under the constitution. Since the return of civilian government to Nigeria in 1999, more than 10,000 people have died in ethnic clashes.

July 1 – Former Soviet Republics: KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyz officials report to the parliament that there are several radical Islamic groups active on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, which are trying to unite into a new clandestine organization, the Islamic Movement of Central Asia. The Hizb ut-Tahrir group alone recruited 1,800 new members over the last year. They also warn that al-Qaeda attempts to use Kyrgyz militants against Western diplomatic missions and military sites of the antiterrorism coalition in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

July 2 – South Asia/International Organizations: PAKISTAN/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM

Asia’s 24-member security organization, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), admits Pakistan after India withdraws its opposition. India’s decision was based on Pakistan’s promise not to raise their bilateral issues in the forum. The ARF focuses on political and security issues of common interest and preventive diplomacy.

July 2 – Latin America: BRAZIL

Brazil’s new gun-control law comes into force, tightening the rules on gun permits and creating a national firearms register. The law bans carrying guns in public and enforces strict penalties for owning an unregistered gun. Brazil plans a referendum on whether to ban sales of guns completely in 2005.

July 3 – Middle East: YEMEN

More than 100 people die, many are wounded, and 185 are arrested during clashes between Yemeni forces and followers of rebel cleric Hussein al-Houthi, a member of a moderate Shia community. The government accuses al-Houthi of founding an armed group called Believing Youth and organizing violent anti-American rallies.


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda open their borders following an agreement by both countries’ presidents to respect an existing peace deal. The opening of borders is seen as a step toward the stabilization of relations between the two countries.


Australia and Thailand sign a free-trade agreement, which will boost the economies of both countries by billions of dollars. Thailand’s main exports to Australia include cars, fruit, and vegetables, while Australia’s main exports to Thailand consist of fuel and chemicals.

July 7 – North America: UNITED STATES

Roman Catholic archdioceses in the United States face bankruptcy because they are unable to pay compensation to people who claim to have been abused by their priests. The Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, which already settled claims of 130 people and paid out more that $53 million, is expected to be the first to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

July 9 – South Asia: AFGHANISTAN

The chief election commissioner in Afghanistan says the presidential elections have been rescheduled and will take place on October 9 because of security concerns and slow voter registration. President Hamid Karzai is a favorite candidate for president; however, there are 13 other men and one woman who also submitted their candidacies. The Taliban militants vow to disrupt the elections and have launched attacks on election workers.

July 9 – Europe: GERMANY

After four years of debate, Germany’s parliament passes the country’s first immigration law. The law makes it easier to bring migrant workers from outside the European Union in response to Germany’s aging population and lack of skilled workers. At the same time, the law allows authorities to deport individuals suspected of supporting political violence.

July 9 – North America/Latin America: UNITED STATES/CUBA/COLOMBIA

Colombian officials report that Cuba has arrested one of Colombia’s biggest drug traffickers, and head of the Cali-based Norte del Valle gang, Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante. The gang is suspected of smuggling to the United States 500,000 kilograms of cocaine since 1990 valued at $10 billion.


After five months of debates, the International Court of Justice in The Hague rules that Israel’s West Bank barrier is illegal and its construction should be stopped immediately. Although the court cannot enforce its decision, it can serve as a basis for UN action. Most of the barrier is built on the occupied territories instead of along the internationally recognized border between Israel and the West Bank. Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defies the court’s decision and says the building will continue.

July 12: South Asia

Severe floods in South Asian countries caused by monsoon rains kill dozens of people and force several millions to flee their homes. Officials in India and Bangladesh say the flooding is the worst in decades. A third of Bangladesh is affected by this disaster. In India, the state of Assam is the worst affected area, and in Nepal, flash floods kill at least 36 people.


Montenegro’s parliament votes to adopt a new flag, national anthem, and national day as part of the republic’s plans for independence from Serbia in 2006, when both Serbia and Montenegro will hold referenda. The two republics form a loose union and maintain control over their own affairs.

July 14 – Latin America: PERU

Thousands of workers go on strike in Peru, demanding better wages and protesting President Alejandro Toledo’s free-market economic policies. More than 150 unions signed up for the protest. Corruption scandals have made President Toledo unpopular.

July 14 – Former Soviet Republics/North America: UZBEKISTAN/UNITED STATES

The United States freezes aid to Uzbekistan, saying Uzbekistan has not made enough progress toward democracy. Since 2001, Uzbekistan has received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid as a reward for letting the U.S. use its air base near Afghanistan.

July 15 – Europe/Russia and Other Former Soviet Republics: RUSSIA/GEORGIA

Two-day talks between Russia, Georgia, and Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia result in signing a protocol, which states that all sides will refrain from using force in resolving the territorial conflict. However, the agreement fails to provide any long-term solution. Georgia is trying to bring South Ossetia back under its control, but the region wants to be a part of Russia.

July 15 – Latin America: VENEZUELA/COLOMBIA

Venezuela and Colombia sign an agreement to build the Guajira-Maracaibo natural-gas pipeline as part of a regional energy network. The $200 million project will transfer natural gas from Colombia’s Guajira province to western Venezuela, where the country faces a deficit of natural gas. Both countries hope that the new agreement will repair recently strained relations.


The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda finds Rwanda’s former finance minister, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentences him to life in prison. The Tribunal proved that he instigated mass killings of ethnic Tutsis in the Kibuye district of western Rwanda.

July 16 – Latin America: CUBA

The Cuban government offers to train nurses and doctors and provide anti-retroviral drugs below the market price throughout the Caribbean as part of the region’s fight against AIDS. The Caribbean has the highest rates of HIV infection after sub-Saharan Africa. However, Cuba has one of the world’s lowest infection rates, and it is willing to share its expertise with the rest of the region.


Thousands of Palestinians rally in the Gaza Strip to protest Yasser Arafat appointing his nephew, Moussa Arafat, a chief of public security in response to international demands to reform the Palestinian security forces. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei rejects the move and hands in his resignation.

July 19 – East Asia: PHILIPPINES

The Philippines withdraws all its troops from Iraq in order to meet a demand by Iraqi militants who threaten to execute a Filipino hostage. The pullout is strongly criticized by other allies as giving in to terrorist demands and setting a bad precedent.

July 20 – South Asia: AFGHANISTAN

Afghan President Hamid Karzai offers federal jobs to three provincial warlords in an attempt to rein in their regional power, which is seen as a main obstacle to progress in Afghanistan. Under the deal, warlords in Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces are to become police chiefs, and powerful Atta Mohammad will become the governor of Balkh.

July 21 – Africa: KENYA

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki announces the creation of a national anti-corruption committee, which will educate Kenyans as to the importance of fighting this social vice. The move follows the European Union’s warning to withhold aid to Kenya.

July 21 – North America/Latin America: MEXICO

The Mexican government creates a compensation aid fund of $2.2 million for the families of more than 300 women murdered in the city of Ciudad Juarez since 1993. Many of these murders, which are blamed on serial killers, drug cartels, and domestic violence, remain unsolved.


Former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso is formally endorsed as the new president of the European Commission, after the European Parliament votes him to succeed Romano Prodi. Barroso vows to fight Euroscepticism among the EU membership. In Portugal, Barroso is replaced by Santana Lopes, who will continue leading the center-right Social Democratic government, with the right-wing Popular Party as the junior partner.

July 23 – Middle East/International Organizations: IRAQ/UNITED NATIONS

The United Nations presents a plan to restore Iraq’s ancient marshlands that supported the Marsh Arabs and provided a habitat for wildlife. Once the largest wetland in the Middle East, 95 percent of the area was deliberately destroyed by Saddam Hussein as revenge for Marsh Arabs’ support to the rebels fighting the Baathist regime. The project will purify contaminated water and recreate natural habitats.

July 25 – East Asia/North America: CHINA/UNITED STATES

China and the United States sign an agreement to increase the number of flights between both countries by 460 percent over the next six years. Under this new deal, the number of flights is raised from the current weekly 54 to 249. Also, U.S. airlines will be allowed to build hubs in China beginning in 2007, and increase the number of new flights in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

July 26 – South Asia/East Asia: INDIA/CHINA

Indian and Chinese officials meet in Delhi for a two-day conference devoted to finding a solution to a long-running border dispute between the two countries. India accuses China of occupying a piece of territory in Kashmir while China claims a piece of territory in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

July 26 – Europe: SPAIN

The leader of Spain’s Basque region, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, meets with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to resume cooperation with the central government. He also says that he has not given up an idea of greater autonomy for the Basque region with separate courts and representation in organizations such as the European Union.

July 28 – Middle East: IRAQ

A suicide attack in a crowded market area outside a police station in the Iraqi town of Baquba kills at least 68 people. Insurgents, who oppose the new Iraqi government, frequently target the country’s new security forces. Since the interim government took power in June, at least 160 people have been killed in various attacks.

July 30 – Africa/International Organizations: SUDAN/UNITED NATIONS

The UN Security Council passes a U.S.-drafted resolution demanding that the Sudanese government halt atrocities by Arab militias in Darfur within 30 days or face economic and diplomatic measures. It also calls on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to issue a follow-up report in 30 days. Since the beginning of the conflict in early 2003, 50,000 people were killed and more than a million were forced to flee the area.

July 30 – Russia and Other Former Soviet Republics: MOLDOVA

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin threatens the breakaway Trans-dniester region with a blockade after its officials close several schools, which use Romanian, Moldova’s official language. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe condemns shutting down the schools and accuses the Trans-dniester region of linguistic cleansing.

July 31 – Africa: COTE D’IVOIRE

Two-day talks mediated by 13 African presidents and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan result in an agreement between the government of Côte d’Ivoire, former rebels, and opposition groups. The accord, which sets a schedule for settling main issues, such as the law of citizenship and who can be a president, also says that the rebels must start disarming by October.

July 31 – North America: UNITED STATES

The U.S. military hold its first review tribunals for the Guantanamo Bay detainees, to decide whether the 600 prisoners should be freed or continue to be held as enemy combatants. The tribunals were set up after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the prisoners had the right to challenge their detentions.